Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
"We do not well; this day is a day of GOOD TIDINGS, and we hold our peace", 2 Kings 7. 9.
In the sovereignty and mercy of our God, the doors of opportunity are wide open in our nation to preach the Gospel. Our report bears witness to this fact. The details cover literally territory from Land's End to John o' Groats. What privileges are ours, and we can join with His servants who give their reports to praise God for His goodness and power. Yet at times we "hold our peace"; we do not well. The apostles in the early days were diligent to teach and to preach the Word without ceasing. The reports this time give evidence of the efforts of His servants to fulfil both these functions faithfully. May they stimulate us to greater prayer and commitment.
Southern Ireland. From A. Gray, MOUNTMELLICK, comes encouraging news of work in the South and Midlands of Ireland. July and August were spent by our brother and his wife at PARKLANDS Caravan Park. This work among children and parents on holiday has grown over the past years. Parents especially go there each year to see that their children join in the Bible-teaching activities. Each day from 70 to 150 children gathered for systematic teaching of the Word with the help of Postal Sunday School material. Many of these were from Roman Catholic families. Two features incorporated in the work were a P.S.S. Camp and also an encouraging week among young Christians at which about 40 were present. Prayer is needed for those who trusted Christ. Because of Roman Catholic backgrounds, follow-up work is often difficult. In the Midlands, some 30 young believers joined with others in the Gospel Literature Outreach to some villages and towns. Through door-to-door work and open air meetings people were reached with the Gospel. Over the years opposition has dwindled and the reception encountered was encouraging. Helpful ministry of the Word was given by R. Heath and C. Goldfinch.
Scotland. MILLPORT. At the invitation of the small assembly in MILLPORT, our brother D. McMaster spends the months of July and August each year in beach work and open-air meetings. Much appreciated help is given by visiting holiday makers. Well planned children's meetings are held each day with clear gospel messages. Scripture portions are offered to interested adults and almost one hundred John's gospels were accepted. To the joy of the workers a number trusted the Saviour. Efforts are made to introduce such to assemblies in their home towns. Our brother speaks of the joy of meeting those who previously had found Christ on the beach at MILLPORT, who had been baptized and were in fellowship in assemblies which he visits. The assembly at BELLSHILL have had the joy of holding two baptisms during the summer. At the first, four young people were baptized, and at the second, one elderly lady and two young people obeyed the Lord. The second baptism was the culmination of four week's meetings held by J. Aitken. These were well attended by unsaved folk, and assemblies gave good support. Praise God for such encouragements. In LANARKSHIRE, six Saturday Rallies were held in villages and towns. The afternoons were devoted to a time of prayer and open air preaching and tracting. Evenings were devoted to a time for ministry. At GALSTON, Ayrshire, J. Clunas and A. Young held three weeks' meetings among children and adults. On one night a mother and her daughter came on: for Christ.
Orkney. To most of us, perhaps, the Orkney and Shetland Islands are unknown mission fields. During the summer months, there has been Gospel outreach planned to reach the largely unevangelized Orkneys. Many of these parts are pioneer missionary areas. There is very much spiritual darkness. Statistics show that religious life is almost non-existent and drink is a major problem with a rising rate of alcoholism. Michael Browne gives details of activity designed to take the Gospel of Christ to every croft and cottage in these Islands. Gospel portions were distributed and an invitation given to receive a copy of the Emmaus Course "What the Bible teaches". On EDAY, brethren from Westray and Papa Westray visited the scattered crofts on bicycles. A good reception was given, and there were no refusals of scriptures. Brethren were able to talk and pray with folk in their homes. On NORTH RONALD-SAY, the whole island was covered on foot by G. Sandison and M. Browne. A Christian lady, thrilled that the Gospel was preached, opened her home. Drink is a terrible problem on this island. ROUSAY, SAN DAY AND STRONSAY were visited in the same way, and the last two islands proved the most difficult. Here definite opposition was experienced. The value of local Orcadian brethren working for the first time in these islands was proved, as the natural reserve of the people was broken down. There is much being done in these remote parts for the Lord. Let us pray that many will be led out of darkness into His glorious light.
News from the SHETLANDS tells of baptisms held in some of the assemblies. A father, son and daughter from SAND-WICK were baptized at Ebenezer Hall, LERWICK. This now means that the whole family, recently saved, have been received into assembly fellowship. At SELIVOE, a baptism was held in August when three young believers obeyed the Lord as a testimony to their faith in Him. It is good to hear of those who not only believe but are also willing to be baptized. Such need our prayers for continuance in the faith. At SOUTH WHITENESS, Joe Merson continued on in the Gospel Bus for three weeks. Numbers and interest were sustained all the way through. Our brother was engaged in 26 meetings in 21 days, finishing up with 55 folks in a 44 seater bus. By all means save some!
Midlands. From WORCESTER comes news of the 5th Annual Rally of the Worcestershire Postal Sunday School. This was held during September at STOURPORT Civic Hall. A time of blessing was enjoyed as pupils, parents, teachers and workers met together. Games were enjoyed in the afternoon and then a more serious evening session was held. A good response came from the children as they brought objects depicting Bible stories. Judging these was difficult, but Jacob's Ladder made out of paper was among the winners. David Dalley of Newent gave a challenging message. Prior to this, during August some of these children had attended the Worcestershire Camp-out at Morthoe. R. Scott-Cook was the Padre and he was able to teach the campers each day something of the meaning of the Word of God. We can praise God for a number who submitted their lives to Christ. Some have asked for baptism. Some have gone back to homes where there is opposition to their progress in Christ. They need our prayers.
London Area. The South London Evangelistic Unit has been spreading abroad the "Good News". At DARTFORD, a young man was spoken to about Christ. He showed interest and left his name and address for the worker to follow up the contact. At BRIXTON, students from Ghana and Nigeria sent a call for Bibles and further tracts after conversation with workers. Both who wrote said they were born-again, and needed help in their Bible study and witness. At WOOLWICH, interesting contacts were made with an Indian Moslem, a Roman Catholic and two Sunday School boys. A Chinese person, converted two months previously, was encouraged and helped; also a man who was baptized the previous evening. At DEPTFORD it was backsliders who were contacted. There was one who had gone forward at a recent Crusade meeting. One, who was involved in levitation and meditation left with a tract, and another man came close to deciding for Christ. At PECKHAM a lady of 25 years of age returned a tract signed as an acknowledgement of her willingness to trust Christ. Further literature has since been sent to her. One Gospel for such variety of needs! This magnifies the wisdom and grace of our God. The unit needs prayer that workers will be found to meet needs in future days.
South & West England. At WEY-MOUTH the three assemblies united together again during the summer months for open-air witness on the sands on Sunday evenings. This work has continued for 70 years, and permission has always been granted. During the season many contacts have been made, and hundreds of tracts have been distributed. Challenging Gospel messages have been given to listening passers-by on the Esplanade. Spiritual help has been given to many needy folk during conversations. An interesting work has been done among many foreign students in the town. Use has been made of tracts in eight different languages among them, and several Saturday night Rallies have proved effective. Efforts are made to put students in touch with assemblies in their hometowns. Eight Norwegian girls were thus introduced to the assembly in KARMAY. Some have gone away rejoicing in salvation. At TRICKETTS CROSS three tent missions were conducted by S. Gillham. On this large housing estate, local assemblies feel the need for a permanent testimony. Interest created by the tent missions indicates the great potentials that are here for the Lord.
Bristol. For several years Bristol Youth Camps have used different sites, but through lack of a permanent site have found operations restricted. In December 1976, Hill House at Otterhampton near Bridgwater was purchased. Badly damaged by fire, the house has been transformed into a place with many necessary facilities for Camps, by many dedicated and willing workers. God's goodness has been experienced in the many tokens of practical and financial help, and also by a young couple, led of the Lord to live in as resident warden/caretakers. A thanksgiving service was held during the summer. About 550 assembled on the lawn to give thanks to the Lord for His great goodness over the years, and to seek His help and guidance for the future. The vision for the future is to see Hill House used for the service of the Lord as a centre for fellowship all the year round. We can pray that God will prosper this venture of faith.
The BRISTOL Evangelical Unit report an increasing sense of opposition and intolerance towards open air preaching and door-to-door work in some areas. Some of this opposition seems to be due to Jehovah Witness and Mormon activity. On many occasions police in rural areas were called. They usually arrived just as short services were concluding. The number of teams operating has lessened, yet those who have worked have been encouraged by interest shown. Several folk have attended local assemblies as a result of the testimony. A South Devon visit was encouraging to a small team with assembly support being good. Some strong opposition was encountered but also there was a sense of blessing.
South Wales. D. Taylor sends us news of South West Wales Evangelization Unit. This has proved a useful means of supplementary assistance to the work of evangelists in the area. During tent campaigns held by D. Morgan at BRECON, N. Mellish and D. Richards at LOUGHOR and G, Morgan at NORTH CORNELLY, the Unit assisted in the work by announcing the meetings and also in open air testimony. During the next three months it is intended, D.V., to help S. Ford in campaigning in South West Wales. Recently the van stopped to give a lady a lift. She proved to be deaf and dumb. That very evening one of the team on board was trained to communicate with deaf and dumb people. The message of the Gospel was given to this needy soul. Truly God is kind to those who need Him.
At MAESYBONT the South West Wales "Christ for Victory" Campaign commenced with S. Ford. There is a small faithful witness in this village, and encouragement was received during these meetings. Houses were visited by S. Ford, D. Prosser, and W. Beale. Interest was created and folk who had never been in the hall before came. A young lad professed faith in Christ. At CARDIGAN, through visitation unsaved people came in to the meetings. Here a man and a woman came out for the Lord. At LLANGELER many personal contacts were made and people came in to listen to the Gospel. At LLANPUMSAINT over 200 attended an after-church Rally and many came in to the meetings which followed. Here, there was great joy as a young man, a registered drug addict, came to Christ and also a young lady professed. The young man needs very much prayer. Homes were visited at NEYLAND and PEMBROKE DOCK with encouraging results. At HAVERFORDWEST the Word was made a blessing as two ladies came out for the Lord. "They went everywhere preaching the WORD".
News comes of F. Lonney, who was recently commended to the Lord's work. At BRECON with D. Morgan a tent campaign was held for several weeks. Children's meetings were well attended and some interesting contacts were made with the local people. One younger and one older lady professed faith. Open air work was engaged in and encouragements were given by visits of groups from assemblies.
Devon and Cornwall. In BURRING-TON numbers were encouraging at the Gospel tent conducted by Dennis Pierce. One young lady continues to show interest but has made no profession of salvation. Four girls, each 12 years old, professed to have trusted the Saviour and have commenced Emmaus Courses with our brother. Let us pray that this work in these girls may be deepened. Encouragements from DARTMOUTH, where a lady, who during the campaign here was "not far from the kingdom", has since professed to trust in Christ. D. Pierce says that she needs to find fellowship—we can pray that she will meet with the local assembly. One man saved in August was baptized in his home assembly in Coventry together with his daughter-in-law who had found the Saviour. At STRETE the Devon Assemblies' Boys Camp saw the Lord's blessing this year; 57 boys with officers attended. The weather was kind to them, and about 14 came to the Lord with others showing good interest. The wettest time known in 13 years in the beach work at WOOLACOM BE did not wholly frustrate the venture. Crowds were smaller than usual but about 30 adults responded to the offer of Christian literature at the end of each day. At BARNSTAPLE, open air activity and door to door work has been carried on during the year near to the assembly with meetings for children being held. Many contacts on the estate were made. This assembly outreach work could have great possibilities of blessing.
Believers at BODMIN are still seeing the Lord's hand in blessing. Negotiations are well under way for the purchase of a plot of land in the centre of the town—suitable for a hall. The Lord is opening up the way in answer to many prayers. Three teenagers and an older lady were baptized in July in a portable baptistry in the tent. Two of the teenagers and their sister are part of the seventeen in fellowship in BODMIN. During the five-week campaign held by J. Hadley, a number professed faith in Christ. Follow-up work continues and a young girl has already asked about baptism. Two further folk have now asked for baptism. During the last two weeks of the campaign, a Holiday Bible School was held for two hours each day. This was well attended by the children. Again follow-up work continues.
We end this report with news of a work at IVYBRIDGE among spastics and physically handicapped children. Plymouth P.S.S. go out to this school about six times during each term. About nine children do the courses but the children listen to messages well, although communication is difficult. In this dark world for these disabled children, shall we not pray that some hope of joy may dawn through the GOSPEL.
Northern Ireland. Since the troubles began here in August 1969, many changes have taken place in ULSTER. Amidst so much political confusion and instability, it is amazing how much business and industry have survived. Many properties have been destroyed and businesses lost. It is to the commendation of the believers and workers that they have sought to continue the work of God in these conditions both in the cities and country areas. In the counties DOWN and ANTRIM there is little to hinder the testimony. 1n border districts the story is different. In LONDONDERRY where there were 100 in fellowship, the assembly is now small and quite weak. STRABANE, NEWRY, DUNGAN-NON and ARMAGH have all been affected, with bombings creating problems. The fear and suspicion around makes Gospel work very difficult. Some halls have suffered minor damage but few have been deliberately attacked. Some Christians have been killed accidentally, but some believers in the security forces have been murdered. Others have lost their places of business. BELFAST has suffered because of troubles and also redevelopment. Strong assemblies have been reduced and weakened. But meetings in the suburbs are growing and interest is good among young and old. More gospel tents have operated during the summer than for a long time. Bussing has been experienced and also freedom from damage. County assemblies have been in the main unaffected by the troubles.
Do we not, those of us who enjoy so much security and peace, owe to our Irish brethren our constant intercession and prayer?